Facebook for feminists

Gabrielle Bailey takes a look at reclaiming gender the modern way

What have you seen on Facebook today? A handful of banal status updates, various memes, and occasionally the flurry of quasi-political involvement, á la that Kony movement.

Yawn. Granted, social networking is becoming one of the most useful tools for political activism, and yet, when was the last time you participated in something bigger than yourself?


Wake up

Liking a page, or even signing your name to an e-petition is nothing when you consider the impact Facebook and its competitors make to a cause. Facebook alone has over a billion users. Imagine mobilising even half of its users; the world would be rocked.

For quite some time I have been a member of ‘No Make Up Day’, a page set up by feminist Violet Thompson, a student at York University. Initially, the aim was seen as ‘radical’, attempting to get girls nationwide to appreciate themselves as  women, to whom make-up ought to be complimentary, not compulsory. The group quickly became a discussion page, with daily posts and debate. Rather than it becoming the bra-burning, man-hating activity that society still perceives feminism to entail, something more optimistic is sprouting.

Enlightened, emboldened, liberated women are coming into their own

Enlightened, emboldened, liberated women are coming into their own and challenging the limitations society has set upon them simply by being the (proud) owner of a vagina. Happy days, their attitudes are changing.

It’s not just Facebook that’s at it. A group of American university students have set up a page on Hipster-giant Tumblr, titled ‘Who Needs Feminism?’. Their aim, much like No Make Up Day, is to focus on social change and progression. You don’t have to be a glasses-wearing, interesting jumper-clad hipster to get involved with this, so there’s literally no excuse for you to not check the page out at the very least (unless you’ve spent the entirety of your loan on alcoholic beverages, and now cannot afford to pay for the internet). It’s still a social networking site, so you can pretend you’re not educating yourself or expanding your horizons and nobody will bully you for being ‘involved’.

As with any attempt to right the world’s wrongs, there are many who view this sort of activism as ‘laughable’ and have openly mocked it. I ask, why? If we were campaigning for racial equality, would there be people ‘trolling’ and metaphorically defecating on our dreams?

Would they ridicule us if their mother was missed for promotion due to gender, or their sister subjected to domestic abuse by a sexist partner? Is their evident disdain for gender equality simply evidence that the Internet is desensitizing us; we are not watchers but spectators, everything we absorb on the Internet a detached reality.

University life has plenty of opportunities to get involved in something you’re passionate about. Maybe you aren’t a raging feminist, but unless you’re a total amoeba, you probably have at least one little bee in your bonnet. Don’t let uni life pass you by kids; there’s more to being a student than seminars and shots.